Growing up I had a strong and very romantic image of myself as a Mother. That very quickly changed with the arrival of my first child. The magic of the pain and beauty in childbirth can never be anticipated or accurately talked about, it has to be experienced. In short, we can never be fully prepared. After this amazing event, I had to face the reality and challenges of being a practicing new Mom and keeping my professional career alive.
I quickly realized that there where two parts of me out of step with each other. Affectionately I’ll call them my “career girl” and the “new Mom”. It became obvious that these two discrete parts of me had their own rules, opinions and beliefs about how I should be managing my life. It also became clear that they developed, over time, huge judgment and antagonism towards one another. For example my natural stay-at-home Mom made it very clear from the beginning that I was a bad Mother to leave my child with a nanny and go back to work so soon. My career girl was simply saying come on don’t get trapped at home we have to get on in life.
This inner talk over time became louder and louder with other voices joining in. I had “the feminine woman” in me, who likes to feel healthy, beautiful and keep herself in a good shape speak up. She was upset she didn’t have the time to look after herself the way she would like and that I was always smelling of milk. She became depressed at always being tired and lacking quality sleep with dark eyes and real or imaginary new lines on her face. Then, was "the wife” who felt and knew she was missing in action. To make matters worse there was also “the dutiful daughter” listening to her own Jewish Mother and taking or ignoring advice how to be the best Mother possible!
You can imagine even the healer-meditator in me became overwhelmed with such noise and confusion. Somehow I managed with determination to work things through until the voice of all internal voices showed up-- my “inner critic”. And wow mine was a killer!
The inner critical voice was constantly complaining that I was just not good enough at any of the above. I was not a good enough Mother or a healer or a wife or a daughter and certainly not looking or feeling beautiful enough. This super-critical voice was constantly focusing on what I should’ve, could’ve or ought to have done. She was the loudest of all inner voices.
For a time the critics tenacity took me by surprise, but like most challenging things in life this voice brought with it a huge gift and opportunity for growth. I had to update and strengthen the way I listened to my self. I had to really focus on and develop ways in being much kinder and caring towards myself. As a result I began to hear and experience the strengths, limitation, fears and vulnerabilities in all these individual inner-voices.
When I learned to stop fearing and criticizing my critic I could even listen to and use the very practical down to earth wisdom that this part of me was sharing in trying to keep me and my child protected and safe. In short, the most welcomed and unexpected outcome was the profound sense of awareness and peace that came from me simply listening with kindness and without judgment to all these different parts of myself. I realized the quest for "self acceptance” cannot and doesn’t happen without us accepting all of ourselves, even the parts that we truly do not like or want to accept or admit to. Self acceptance is the key that opens the door to taking better care of ourselves and our loved ones. Truly if we do not know how to Mother and take good care of ourselves how can we even begin to take care of others especially our precious little ones.
After practicing a very simple daily ritual of listening with self kindness and acceptance, judgment of ourselves and others becomes less and less. We become willing to open our hearts and make ourselves available for the first steps for healing to take place.